Grace For The Journey
As we look at Luke, chapter 8 we read the first verse of the passage, where the first words if verse 26 are, “Then they sailed,” and we are reminded of where we left Jesus and the disciples last time. They were in a fishing boat making their way East across the Sea of Galilee. You will remember that a windstorm came suddenly upon the waters and the disciples began to fear for their lives. They called upon the Lord Jesus and Jesus calmed the waters in an instant. They were left wondering, as the last part of verse 25 stated, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water and they obey Him!” Praise the Lord, the boat is still sailing, but now on calmer waters. But as we are going to see in today’ tudy, while the waters are now calm, things are not so calm on the land where they will disembark.
Our study this morning comes from the statement Jesus makes to this newly cleansed and demon-free man there in verse 39, “‘Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.’ And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.” God has done great things. I wonder whether we would be able to tell others what great things God has done for us? We sing of this phrase enough as we gather together for worship . . .
“Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;”
Or . . .
“He has done great things
He has done great things
He has done great things
Bless His holy name.”
But imagine if a friend of yours asks this afternoon, “I was wondering could you tell me some of the great things Jesus has done in the Bible. And then I was wondering if you could tell me some of the great things that Jesus has done recently in your life just this week, because I assume that if you sing about the great things He has done then surely you are prepared to enumerate a few of them.” What would you say?
Our passage this morning helps us consider the great things our Lord has done. We will go through the verses and learn four truths that help come to understand this passage. Afterwards, when we have gone through the passage together, I want to give you some practical things to do in light of what the text teaches us.
This first word is . . .
I. Troubled And Bound – Verses 26-27.
We are introduced to a man in verse 27 who is alienated from society. He is demonized and marginalized by the people in the nearby town. They had kicked him out because of his being demon possessed. He wears no clothes, apparently because he cannot keep them on himself, forever running, forever falling, and forever being tortured by a number of demons that had possession of him. Verse 27 ends by telling us that this man did not live in a house but among the tombs in a graveyard outside of the town – he was homeless, hurtful to society, and helpless to change his life.
In our last study we saw that every one of us at any point of our lives is either in a storm, or we have recently come out of a storm, or we are getting ready to head back into another storm. That is certainly the case here as the disciples, still reeling from the horrible storm in the preceding verses have to be like, “Whew! Glad we got out of that,” but no sooner do they cross the now calmer waters of the Sea of Galilee than they are met by this crazy demon possessed man in verse 27. Fortunately, the Jesus who was “in the boat” with them in the storm remains right there with them now in the country of the Gadarenes. This man was experiencing alienation.
Word two . . .
II. Touched By Jesus – Verses 28-34,
The demon possessed man and Jesus now meet. Verse 28 says, “When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!’” It is really interesting to me of how the disciples’ question of the preceding passage, “Who can this be,” is answered now by the demon possessed man, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.” I am not sure the disciples were even prepared to confess as much about Jesus. Yet, this true statement about Jesus comes from the mouth of a demon possessed man, reminding us of James 2:19, “Even the demons believe and tremble.”
The demons believe what the natural man does not,
That Jesus Christ is the Son of the Most High God.
Demons are real. There is an ongoing battle between light and darkness, between God’s heavenly host of angelic beings and the Devil’s demonic host of angelic beings. This does not mean that we need to be worried and forever looking for demons in our living rooms or automobiles or coffee pots. Nor does it mean we should have an over-fascination with demons.
Recently, the Catholic Church drew a lot of attention when Roman Catholic bishops hosted a meeting on exorcism in Baltimore, Maryland. 50 bishops and 60 priests gathered together to learn how to discern whether a person was genuinely demon possessed and what to do if, in fact, they determined the person was. According to the Catholic Church only priests and those in the hierarchy of the church are capable of performing what they call the “rite of exorcism.” The Bible mentions no such rite, ritual, or sacrament of exorcism. Demons tremble at the name of Jesus Christ and His glorious presence. We must respect the power of demons, but we must also remember that James 4:7-8 says, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
It is always important to remember that a Christian can never be possessed by a demon. When we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God literally indwells us by way of the Holy Spirit. This is why John can say in 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” Christians can be tempted and oppressed, but they can never by possessed by a demon.
In verse 29 we read that Jesus had commanded the demon to come out of the man and then we read a little bit more about this poor man’s condition. Verse 29 says that the demons had often seized him so that, apparently, people of the nearby village would try to protect the man from harming himself, placing him in chains. But the man would break the chains and the demons would drive him into the wilderness. It really is quite a sight.
Verse 30 says that Jesus asked him his name. He answers, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him. This helps us understand why sometimes the man speaks and sometimes the demon speaks and sometimes the demons speak as one voice and sometimes as many voices. The word “legion” is a word from the Roman Army, referring to 6,000 soldiers. And the point is that this man had a lot of demons taking over his body.
The Bible teaches us here that these demons know the power of Jesus Christ. They know He is more powerful than they so they beg Him, in verse 31, that Jesus would not command them to go out into the abyss. The abyss is the final destination of Satan and his angels. You can read about it later in Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:1-3. There is a herd of swine, a herd of pigs, nearby, revealing to us that the place where Jesus and His disciples are is a place largely populated by Gentiles. Pigs were off-limit to Jews (Leviticus 11:7). The demons know Jesus will succeed in delivering them out of this man. They do not want to remain disembodied spirits so they ask Jesus to send them into the pigs. Jesus concedes and verse 33 tells us that “the herd ran violently down the steep place into the lake and drowned” and then, verse 34 tells us, “When those who fed them saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country.” That would have been quite a sight, a large of herd of pigs squealing and running off the cliff and into the water.
There are many questions left unanswered in this passage and I am not going to attempt to answer them, nor will I pretend to know all the answers to them. Luke’s main point in recording this event is to . . .
Demonstrate that this Jesus
Who has authority over the storm
In the preceding passage has authority
Over the spirit world in this passage.
That’s Luke’s main point. Jesus has authority and power over the demonic.
The third word is . . .
III. Transformed By The Power Of Christ – Verses 35-37.
The man has been transformed, cleansed from the demons that possessed his body. Verse 35 says, “Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.” This is a different man. He has been transformed from a demon-possessed man to a normal human being. The word of Jesus Christ accomplished this.
But the people from the nearby town do not like what they see. The last part of verse 35 says that these folks “were afraid,” and then verse 37, “Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear.” This is not the kind of fear that leads to following the Lord, it is a fear of the unknown, a fear of something you cannot control. It may even have been a fear of losing financial gain or property. A number of these people valued pigs more than people.
JC Ryle tells us about this verse, “It has been remarked by many commentators, that these Gadarenes are an exact type of the men of this world. They saw the miraculous deliverance of a fellow creature from Satan’s power, and took no interest in it. But they saw the loss of their swine with deep concern. In a word, they cared more for the loss of swine, than the saving of a soul. There are thousands like them. Tell them of the successes of missionaries, and the conversion of souls at home or abroad, they hear it with indifference, if not with a sneer. But if you tell them of the loss of property, or a change in the value of money, they are filled with anxiety or excitement. Truly the generation of the Gadarenes is not yet extinct.”
The last part of verse 37 tells us that Jesus leaves them, “And He got into the boat and returned.” That should alarm us somewhat. If we refuse to follow Christ one day, there is no guarantee the Holy Spirit will draw us to Him the next day. Jesus got into the boat and left these people in their sins. They were disinterested. They lost their chance to be as transformed as this man. Do not resist the Spirit of God Who tugs at your heartstrings to draw you savingly to His side. Do not tell Him, “No.” There is no guarantee your heart will be warmed again by the Holy Spirit. This man was troubled, touched by Jesus, and transformed.
There is a fourth word . . .
IV. Testimony About Christ’s Power – Verses 38-39.
Verse 38 states, “Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him.” That is understandable, isn’t it? This man has been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. He wants to stay with Him! Verse 39 tells us, “But Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.’ And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.”
This guy, who was bound and burdened by sin and Satan, goes on an evangelistic crusade, proclaiming what great things Jesus had done for Him. This is what all true followers of Christ do. Following Jesus Christ includes the responsibility of telling others about Him.
By the way, do not miss what Jesus says in verse 39, “Tell what great things God has done for you.” Then we read, “He went his way and proclaimed what great things Jesus had done for him.” See the connection? Jesus has the same status as God. To speak of Jesus is to speak of God, God who became man, coming to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Never let anyone try to tell you the Bible nowhere teaches the full deity of Christ. He is God.
Let me give you a few actions to take in light of the passage. Think of these actions as tools for your toolbox this week. When you go through life this week you carry this toolbox with you and when you get in a bind, you open it up to help you fix the various things you face.
Here is the first truth this passage asks us to live by . . .
1) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Struggles.
If you are an honest follower of the Lord Jesus Christ then you will admit to struggling in your spiritual growth. The unbeliever knows no such struggle. Many people can come and listen to the preaching of the Word and feel smugly that they are okay. They think in their heart, “This preaching seems to be for everyone else. I’m okay; I’m a good person, no worries here.” This is how the unbeliever talks. He thinks he is good enough to get into heaven. He thinks the preaching of the Word is for everyone except her.
We must always come to worship prepared to hear a Word from God. The spirit of our heart should always be, “It’s not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord standing in need of prayer” . . . “Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening.” If we come to worship this way, God will, indeed, speak to us. We come humbly and broken. We admit we are weak and in need of God’s Word. We need the instructive and correcting power of the Word of God because we all – each of us – struggle in our spiritual growth.
The Good News is that the same power that frees the man of demons can free you from whatever binds you. Whatever your struggle, know that the same power that frees the man of demons can free you. Jesus is bigger than your struggles.
We said earlier that no Christian can be possessed by a demon, but a Christian most certainly can be oppressed by a demon. An unhealthy attitude, an addiction, a mental or emotional preoccupation – all of these are ways in which the prince of this world seeks to rob us of our joy in Christ. He wants us to feel defeated, demoralized, and in despair. He endeavors to make us feel we are of no use to the Lord, that because of our continual struggle against the flesh we are unspiritual and ungodly. But we need to remember that one little word from our Lord Jesus Christ will defeat the enemy’s hold on us. God loves us and will deliver us from that which binds us. The Bible says in Romans 8:37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
I do not know what each of us battles, but I know that if we have a pulse that every one of us battles something or other. Remember that Jesus is bigger than your struggles. Be encouraged by the words of James we noted earlier, James 4:7-8, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Continually draw near to God and ask for the aid of His power to defeat the things that war against you. Remember that Jesus is bigger than your struggles.
Number two . . .
2) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Sorrows.
Apart from the power of Jesus Christ, this man was marginalized by society, alienated from others, living a life full of nothing but sorrow and darkness. But Jesus has a divine appointment with this man. He crosses the storm-tossed sea to come to this man to deliver him from his sorrows. Then Jesus sends the man on his way. He tells him in verse 39, “Return to your own house and tell what great things God has done for you.” The man went home changed. I imagine how his wife must have reacted when her husband who had been dramatically changed entered the door. I wonder what it was like for the children when a new daddy, changed by Jesus, stepped inside. Jesus changes us and delivers us from our sorrows.
Henry David Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Many of us today may feel a sorrow we are sure no one else will understand. We have a battle on the inside known only to our Lord. This same Jesus, who traveled across the Sea of Galilee to heal a man tormented by alienation and separation, comes to you today to deliver you from the same plight. Trust in Him this morning to deliver you from your sorrows.
Remember Jesus is bigger than your struggles and bigger than your sorrows.
Number three . . .
3) Remember Jesus Is Bigger Than Your Sin.
This man pictures what conversion looks like. The man pictures what it looks like to be saved from our sins. Before he meets Jesus, he is running around all over creation. But after he meets Jesus, he is sitting at his feet. Before he meets Jesus, he is naked, lost, and his mind, filled with the ways of the world. But after he meets Jesus, he is at peace, clothed, and in his right mind. This is a changed man.
Has our Lord Jesus Christ changed you? Of all the “great things that He has done” can you say that He has saved your soul? Are you clothed in the righteousness of Christ today? Are you in your right mind today, living in accordance with Romans 12:2 which says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind?”
If Jesus has crossed the Sea to come to you today, do not turn him away. Do not push Him back into the boat and watch Him sail away, never to return. Come to the One who comes to you first. Come to Christ and be saved.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”